How to become freelancer? It’s not technical post, but very often it’s related to IT people, as many of us is working as freelancer. Also many of us think that our salary is low or projects are below our expectation. So some of us accept it, some will change a job or move abroad. I would like to show you that there’s another way, I mean how to become freelancer. I do not asking you to quit the job and move to own business. I would like to show you how to achieve this goal with small step by step. Usually if we want to be a freelancer we have to take care about everything by ourself: getting clients, payments, marketing, etc. And if we don’t have big experience, or if we are not Bill Gates, or if he is not our father it could looks like crazy idea!
In my case how to become freelancer I have other idea. It’s not so amazing, but it will allow us to find out if we are capable of being freelancer or we should look for permanent job. The main point is customer. You can be as amazing as you want, but if no one is going to buy your services you have nothing… Many freelancers before was working in corporation or big companies. They get there many contacts so after moving forward they were able to work with them by their own. Ok, but if we are not working in big company or we are not social person? Well, there’s solution which I personally use for several years. Right now there’s five main web sites on the marker for freelancers. Of course there could be something else but they are for other groups like translators. If I missed something please let me know in the comment:
1. Freelancer – I guess that it’s the biggest company on this market right now, and they are Australian company, not US. Since a few years they has taken control over many similar companies.
2. Elance – competitor from United States. They are running their websites for years. Right now they are in process of oDesk acquisitions
3. oDesk – another US based company, they become famous as first web site with hours projects. Right now they in the merger process with Elance
4. Upwork – It”s new company, merger of Elance and oDesk. We should see results soon.
5. Guru. One of the oldest web sites. There are not too many projects, but they are still running .
I would like to highlight one thing . It’s not so easy as it looks. You have to know a few thing to avoid loosing money or your personal brand.
So how to become freelancer?
1. First of all. You don’t need paid account to start! All those companies have paid plans with some additional futures, but believe me you don’t need it at the begging! You can start with a free plan, and if you will discover that it’s something for you you can get paid plan, so you will get possibility to make more bids or highlight more skills. And I have one general rule. I don’t get paid plans If I will not earn money for it with free plan.
2. Never start a project until client make milestone payment! That’s the main rule. I met many people on the market which just want you to make their project without any payment for you. Every platform has possibility to request milestone for project or project part. When you make a bid always require milestone before. Also you have to remember about currency of the project. For example Freelancer has a lot of currencies and for example if your client is from Australia the project will be calculated with AUD (Australian Dollar) which is not the same as American… Every platform has different solution but believe me sometime it’s better to give up amazing and big project, but with just promised money… When you request milestone money will be placed on the escrow account, which is controlled by platform owner, and even if the client make some trouble to you, you have a chance to get your money. And it’s related to the next point.
3. Project terms. Always and in details describe project scope, terms and steps. Sometime customers ask you to make something beyond project scope, without any additional money. Also if the customer refuse to release money from the escrow those information will be used during dispute between you and the client. Freelance web sites usually are on the customer side as they get money from them, but if everything is well documented, project scope has been fulfilled they will not a choice and they will release money to you from escrow account.
4. Communication to the client. This point is related to previous one. Very often customer ask you to chat/talk on Skype or other communicator, or make the project via TeamViewer, etc. No problem. But you have to remember that everything what you done there you must be put also into project room, without any delays. Without that in case of any problems you already lose, as you don’t have any prove of your progress…
5. Brand. You name is your brand, and if you fail it will stay with you for a long time. Sometime it’s better to give up. Remember that there are people on the market who make very low bids, even if they have not related skills. And after getting the project they trying to rise bid amount, which make customer angry, and then customer can come back to you. I had such cases before. Of course when you start this business you have to make 2-3 projects at the begging with low bids to get some history, but without that customer will not trust you with better paid projects…
6. Customers. After some time you will discover that you have some old clients. In this case, if you trust them, you can ask them to move out on your own. In this case you can save a fee which is taken by the company from each dollar paid to you. And in this case you can discover that the PayPal is great solution. For me PayPal is the cheapest platform to get payments from the clients as also from the freelancer companies. Of course you can also get your money directly to your bank account, but for me fee taken from currency conversion by bank is worse than PayPal’s.
That’s the basics how to become freelancer. It will require some time to get money, it’s not for one month operation and there’s also one crucial factor in this. You have to be very good in something. I am mean REALLY good. There are thousands of IT guys on the market, but if you are looking for someone with high skills it could be very difficult and this it what customers are ready to pay for. So before you start you have to be good in something, and then you can think how to become freelancer. And that’s why I focus on SharePoint/ Office 365. If you want to learn too many things, you will not learn well any of them…
Also I would like to highlight that it’s not always money. Base on my personal experience it’s also important that this approach allow you to get some amazing experience, which is not possible in case of permanent jobs. For example I learnt a lot about Microsoft Azure when I built for customer SharePoint farm in Azure. And it was very long ago. Good luck.